Sureshot on the Range

Excerpt from The Sureshot Rises join the adventure!

“Good. Tarbon take row three; Durbar, row four,” Karr ordered. The general called a couple of men and told them to clear the targets, get the men a ten-arrow quiver, and move everyone into the stands. As they were preparing the range, Durbar strung his bow and pulled back the string a few times to loosen it up and make sure it was secure. The range was finally set up and each man stood ready.

General Karr announced, “Okay, men, I expect that each of you will be courteous to the other while shooting. Captain Tarbon, since this is your range, you can start.”

“It would be my pleasure, General,” snorted the captain. 

The archer stood at the edge of the shooters’ line, notched an arrow, drew his bow and loosed the arrow at the target one hundred and fifty feet away. The arrow flew fast and struck the innermost ring, scoring ten points for Tarbon. The crowd roared. Tarbon stepped back away from the line and Durbar stepped up. He notched his arrow and drew his bow. With both eyes open, he aimed at the target. He loosed the arrow and it struck the second circle on the target. The crowd cheered again as he only scored eight for that shot. Both men hit the first circle on their second and third shot. On the fourth shot, Tarbon shot high and hit the second circle. Durbar hit the first circle, tying the score. 

The onlookers were getting restless. They wanted to see Tarbon beat the woodsman. Both men hit on shots five and six making them tied at fifty-eight points each. Tarbon shot high again on shot seven, but Durbar hit the bull’s-eye. Now Durbar lead by two points and the crowd was getting rowdy. Tarbon hit perfect on shot eight, but as Durbar stepped to the line to shoot, the crowd began to hoot and holler, taunting the woodsman to miss. He had never shot with such noise before, but he looked down range at the target and fired an arrow that hit dead center. 

Now with two shots left, Durbar still led by two. Tarbon, tension rising in his body, pulled back too strongly and shot high and right to give him only six points on shot nine. Durbar stepped to the line and fired his arrow, but as it left his bow, the fletching tore and the arrow flew low and left hitting for only four points. This unfortunate turn of events made the men tied with one shot remaining. Durbar appealed to Karr but he said there was nothing he could do about it. “It could happen to anyone,” he explained with a shrug, “Each man has eighty-two with one last shot. Fire when ready Captain Tarbon.” 

The pressure was bearing down on Tarbon. Never before had he had such stiff competition. Normally, even if he shot poorly, he still won. Durbar, however, was incredibly accurate. The only reason Tarbon was still in the match was because of a faulty arrow. Sweat poured down his face and his palms were moist. The target suddenly looked blurry to him. With his senses unreliable the archery captain was forced to fire from instinct alone. 

Durbar, on the other hand, had nothing to lose. None of the people there knew him, nor did he care for any of them.  He had nothing to prove to anyone. The only reason he was there was because of an overzealous prince. There was virtually no pressure to make a shot and win. He knew how good he was and knew that if he was using his own arrows he may have had a perfect score at that point.

Tarbon stepped to the line to fire shot ten. He glared down the range considering the slight breeze. His heart beat too hard and his breath was too fast. All he could think of was beating the Sureshot. Everyone waited in anticipation.  Hardly a breath could be heard from the crowd. Finally, Tarbon drew back his bow and held it a second to try to get the perfect aim. At last he released his string and his shot sailed down range and hit the second circle scoring eight points giving him a total of ninety. The crowd cheered their captain, but Durbar had one shot remaining.

Karr motioned to Durbar and he stepped to the line, and in an instant, he raised his bow, drew the string, and released the arrow. It soared perfectly toward the center circle and hit the bull’s-eye. Everyone was shocked into silence. Durbar had just beaten Tarbon, and his last shot was a snap shot without any aiming. How could anyone do that? the archery captain wondered. He stared down range at the shot that lifted Durbar over him. His mouth gaped open, and his eyes did not blink for nearly a full minute. All the spectators watched intently, waiting for the captain to react. At last, Tarbon clenched his bow tightly in his fist, turning his knuckles white around the shaft. His face contracted and his brow slid forward, causing his eyes to squint. He swung his bow in the air several times before turning to Durbar who was watching with hidden satisfaction.

“Listen, you little whelp!” Tarbon yelled in anger, but General Karr cut him off.

“Captain Tarbon!” roared the general. “Stand at ease!” Tarbon stopped in his tracks and looked at the general. He knew he had acted poorly. “You are an officer in the Dirkan army and furthermore under my command in the Harmon Garrison. You will not ever act like this again in front of the men! Do you understand me, Captain?”

“Yes, Sir!” exclaimed Tarbon snapping back to attention and erasing any emotion from his face.

“Durbar will most likely be playing in the games for Rothan. I am sure his brother Warren will let you compete on his team if you like, but for now I don’t care if you compete at all after that undisciplined display. Now get out of my sight.” Tarbon stormed off without saying a word. General Karr turned toward Durbar.

“I apologize,” he began. “It is unlike him to act like that. He is a very spirited young officer indeed, but I have never seen him behave so rashly. I don’t want you to speak poorly of the garrison because of it.”

“Sir, what happened here, will stay here. I have no one to tell as it is,” assured Durbar plainly.

“Well good, my boy,” boomed Karr smiling. “That was some very nice shooting there. I don’t think I’ve seen a man shoot like that for some time now. Tarbon shot well today and you still beat him.”

“Thank you, sir,” Durbar said finally showing a grin. “My father taught me.”

“Well, he must have been a good teacher. Come with me; I will send someone for Prince Rothan and we can talk.”

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